Rewriting History: Leon Traveler

   Written by on August 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

If you visited Richmond, Virginia and were vaguely interested in history you have probably visited Monument Avenue.  You would have seen statues of Robert E. LeeJ.E.B. StuartJefferson DavisThomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. If your visit was recent, you would have also seen a statue of Arthur Ashe.

When you asked who they were, if your host was a “dyed in the wool” unreconstructed Southerner you would have been told, “That, Suh, is the Confederate General Robert E. Lee on his famous gray horse Traveler, President Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson,” and so on with a soliloquy on the valiant lost cause.

But most of you would have been told, “That’s Leon Traveler (Lee on Traveler), Jeff Davis, Stonewall Jackson and some guy whose name I’ve forgotten.” They had something to do with Southern History.

In any case, the Lee statue was erected in 1890 with the other statues following. To me it seems sort of silly to suddenly decide after 127 years there is something wrong with a statue of Lee.

The Civil War is a fact. It happened. Nothing can erase that or our history of slavery, abuse of Indians, abuse of indentured servants, abuse of immigrants and so on. Man has been abusing mankind since Cain and Abel.  I noticed years ago no one from the North wants to talk about Sherman’s March to the Sea and his war on civilians. Today Sherman would be charged with war crimes, then he was a hero.  We should not ignore history, we should learn from it.

Certainly slavery was a large issue but not the only issue causing the secession. As with our American Revolution, economics was the central factor.

It is a simple fact that the South had a legal right to secede from the Union just as the North had a right to prevent the secession. I for one am glad we are still a single great country but we can’t change history.

If you would take a little time to study Robert E., you would find he was a man of character who stood up for his state (after much agonizing) and who promoted unity after the conflict. Lee was a true hero.

If we start sanitizing history of all slave owners, we will first have to redact many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Washington and Lee University will become “___and ___.”  I guess our nation’s capital will just be D.C.  Roads, towns, streets, counties, buildings and universities will all have to be renamed.

Leave the statues, celebrate our history, but remember the wrongs and try to do better.

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